It’s January – “National Diet Month” – and how many of you have already grown tired of Paleo, Whole 30, clean eating, Weight Watchers or Nutrisystem? Or, if you are new to the NON-DIETING lifestyle, is the onslaught of diet ads and conversations getting hard to listen to?
If the answer is yes, I’m finding it hard to stick to this plan, or yes, I can’t stand listening to this diet bull s_ _ t, it’s because diets come with an expiration date! As soon as you start restricting your food, your body has the opposite effect – it wants MORE of the very foods you deny yourself.
Health at Every Size and Intuitive Eating
In my office, I hear the same sentiment all the time: “I don’t get it! I am successful at managing everything but my stubborn weight problem.” If this sounds like you, please understand that the problem is not YOU – It is the DIET. I have seen firsthand the damage caused by fad diets and diet culture.
We have clear data available to show that diets have a 95-97% failure rate! (1)
Q: What??? If I start on a diet, that means that 95-97% of the time, the diet will not work in having me lose and maintain my weight loss?
A: Yes, that is the sad truth. Diets and the 60 billion-dollar weight loss industry is based on the premise of YOUR failure and have unintended consequences including food and body preoccupation, weight cycling, reduced self-esteem, distraction from other health promoting behaviors like exercise, and can even lead to eating disorders.
If diets worked, why wouldn’t everyone be smaller? Why wouldn’t you be able to tackle this “problem” of yours once and for all? The rare few who do manage to keep their weight off are NOT usually sharing how tortured they feel – thinking about food and weight most of the day and night.
Q: What’s a person to do? How can I get healthy? My doctor is always telling me I must lost ‘x’ number of pounds!
A: It is time to focus our efforts and attention to health. If health were the goal, rather than weight loss, your feelings of failure would dissipate. We have very clear data that a healthy body can exist in a wide range of shapes and sizes (2) and that health is determined more by your behaviors than on the number on the scale. It’s a radical concept! When I work with a chronic dieter, our goal is to adopt regular patterns of eating, increase joyful movement, find ways of managing our feelings without using food, and thus improve self-esteem.
You can learn to become the expert of your body and meeting its needs. You can discover your own natural, internal signals of hunger and fullness. You can distinguish between your reasons for eating – the “why,” “when,” “what,” “how and “how much” – as the first step in learning to eat mindfully and “intuitively.” You were born with all this knowledge deep inside of you. It is yours to reclaim.
I am so passionate about this – it bears repeating! With intuitive eating, you will be able to:
- Change your thinking about why counting calories, points or macros doesn’t work
- Learn why you need to stop defining food as “good” or “bad”
- Understand ways to reduce shame and guilt around your eating habits
- Know that you do not have to do everything perfectly
- Realize that a healthy body comes in all shapes and sizes
- Avoid passing on your own eating struggles to your children
My wish for the New Year is that I practice better self-care: making regular doctor appointments, getting extra sleep, learning a new skill, and connecting with friends and family more often!
What’s your non-diet wish in the New Year? Why not share yours with all of us – make it real by stating it aloud and to others. Click here and add your Non-Diet Wish or Goal for the New Year to the list.
1. Am J Public Health. 2015 September; 105(9): e54–e59. Published online 2015 September. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2015.302773
2. New York Times – Panel Criticizes Weight Loss Programs
Intuitive Eating Essentials for Midlife, Menopause and Beyond: This is a self-paced program that explores your relationship with food, your dieting history, readiness to integrate intuitive eating into your life, and teaches you how to use your values to make peace with food. This program is geared for women in Midlife, Menopause and Beyond with special lessons dedicated to how we change as we age and what role nutrition can play. Click here for all the details!
Erica Leon is a Registered Dietitian and practices from a Health at Every Size (HAES®) lens. She is certified as an eating disorder specialist and is passionate about helping women at midlife, menopause and beyond to make peace with food and body image.
Erica is a highly sensitive nutrition therapist who takes the time to learn where you or your family are in the pursuit of health. Respectful of your individual needs and lifestyle, she will provide an honest assessment of whether or not you are a good fit to work together. Click here to schedule a 15-minute Discovery Call with Erica to let us know about your needs, and to see which of our Dietitians is the best fit for you!
Download our Free Intuitive Eating Guide and get off that Diet Roller Coaster for good!